What Does Post-Secondary Education Mean?

Post-secondary education is any level of education after high school. It can include education obtained from colleges, universities, trade schools, seminaries, institutes of technology and any other facility that offers an academic degree or certificate.

In the United States, all students generally attend school from kindergarten through 12th grade. Post-secondary education is not required but is used by many people to gain additional education and skills for higher-level employment. The type of school one attends depends on the career and field of interest. For example, someone looking to work as a medical assistant can enroll in a trade school while someone interested in teaching math may go to a college. Schools can range from large campuses with 20,000 students or more to a small building with a few students. Students generally consider various options so they can choose the one that best fits their needs.

Four-year Colleges Four-year colleges award bachelor’s degrees, such as a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science. Some colleges specialize in a specific field, such as nursing or education. Others offer a wide range of subjects in the humanities, sciences and social sciences. Colleges range from small local schools to large campuses with students from around the world. They can be single-sex or co-educational, religious or secular. Examples include Endicott College and Mount Holyoke College.

Community Colleges Community colleges offer two-year associate degrees and technical certificates designed for students looking to enter a particular field. They can also offer continuing education courses for those looking to gain a new career skill outside of a formal program. These schools typically focus on the needs of students in nearby communities and are supported by the state. Examples include Quincy College and Nassau Community College.

Universities Universities offer four-year bachelor’s degree program, plus graduate, master’s and doctoral degrees. Some universities offer professional degrees in areas, such as medicine, business and law. Examples of universities include Stanford University and the University of Virginia.

Trade School A trade school or vocational school focuses on training students for specific careers. Programs in these schools can last anywhere from a few weeks to two years and give students the hands-on skills they need to apply for jobs. Students who complete these programs receive a certificate, associate degree or license. There is a wide range of typical career paths found in these schools, such as cosmetology, welding, dental hygiene and hospitality. New Castle School of Trades in Pennsylvania is one example of a trade school.

Institutes of Technology An institute of technology, or technical school, is similar to a trade school in that it prepares students for a specific career. Technical schools tend to focus more on the science behind the occupation, rather than hands-on training. Subjects found in technical schools include computer science and graphic design. The ITT Technical Institute is an example of a technical school in the U.S.

Seminaries Seminaries are religious schools that prepare students for theological work. Graduating students can go on to become clergy members, lay ministry or teachers. Roman Catholic seminaries also prepare men for the priesthood. An example of a U.S. seminary is the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, run by the Dominican Friars.